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Superyachts may bring biggest spenders to Auckland

Superyachts may bring biggest spenders to Auckland for 2021 America's Cup, CBRE says

By Andrew Bevin

May 18 (BusinessDesk) - Superyachts owned by some of the world's wealthiest billionaires are likely to provide the biggest boost to Auckland's economy at the 2021 America's Cup, an event CBRE says could generate between $403 million and $892 million for the city.

Scores of superyachts are expected to flock to the event in early 2021, pumping money into the hotel, marine, retail and residential property sectors, the commercial property firm said in a report. Their passengers and crew may provide the largest overall boost to the city's economy and drive sales for retailers, bars and restaurants, it says.

The global superyacht fleet is expected to keep growing through 2021 when forecasts indicate the total will be approaching 6,000 vessels, approximately twice the number in 2000. Larry Ellison, founder of US software maker Oracle, may not be a starter for Auckland with his superyacht Musashi after reports he had pulled support for Oracle Team USA but other tech billionaires may show up. Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page are both owners, as is Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, with world's richest person with a fortune of about US$131 billion, was reported last year to be in the market for a suitable vessel. Superyachts are also popular among Russian industrialists.

"Coupled with extensive media, sponsor and spectator activity, the America's Cup offers a boost to the economy and also presents the opportunity for longer-term urban regeneration and infrastructure improvements," the Auckland-based CBRE analysts and valuers say in the report.

The 2003 Auckland America's Cup generated a net spending of $523 million, of which the racing teams accounted for 55 percent. In 2021 there will be fewer teams but spending by the superyachts and from general tourism is expected to more than make up any shortfall, CBRE said.

While each of the previous Cups was held over a five-month period, the upcoming event is expected to be held over a three-month span. While this means that superyachts will be berthed in Auckland for a shorter period, their numbers are expected to be higher, CBRE said.

The 2021 event is expected in total to capture up to $250 million in core retail expenditure including food and beverages. Retail spending during the 2003 event was $136 million, 27 percent of the total at that event. Accommodation made up 9 percent of total expenditure during the 2003 event, around $47 million.

An extra 214,569 hotel room nights were sold during the 2003 Americas Cup period. Even with an additional 2,580 rooms estimated to be completed in Auckland in time for the regatta, there will be a shortage of hotel rooms, which will need to be filled through Airbnb and serviced apartments.

Thursday's budget allocated a $100 million support package for the Americas Cup, for development of infrastructure and the running of America's Cup events.

(BusinessDesk)

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